Why Apple’s revolutionary iPad is the first real computer

invisibleSHIELD case for iPadJoel Johnson writes for Macworld, “I don’t have a pundit’s drunken courage to say that this first iPad is going to be a smash hit. But I don’t think it puts me too far out on a limb to say that we might look back on it in a few decades and say, ‘Hey, that was the first real computer.'”

MacDailyNews Take: We haven’t had a drop to drink today, yet, nor did we the first time we said it on iPad unveiling day (in-between we make no claims), so we have no problem typing the following yet again, in bold: “This first iPad is going to be a smash hit.”

Johnson continues, “Nerds of 2040 will sigh and rattle off any number of previous computers if someone makes that [“iPad was the first real computer”] claim. But even those nerds will have to concede that the iPad marked the beginning of appliance computing, when physical devices and interfaces receded into the background and touch gave us an entirely new intimacy with our information.”

“Automobiles had been around for 30 years before Henry Ford put together the first Model T,” Johnson writes. “Those previous attempts at a mass-market car were critical to Ford’s success, but it’s Ford we remember.”

Johnson writes, “The iPad isn’t the most capable machine out there. It’s not a multitasker.”

MacDailyNews Take: Whoops. iPad, like every single iPhone and iPod touch that’s ever shipped, is a multitasker. It simply doesn’t yet allow for multitasking by third-party apps. Listen to your iPod while surfing the web and you’re multitasking. With iPhone 4.0, Apple will usher in multitasking for third-party apps, along with much more. It will be available as a software update to iPhone and iPod touch users this summer and a version of iPhone OS 4 will be coming to iPad this fall.

Johnson continues, “But the iPad’s limitations are also its strength. Because they’re uniform across the platform, developers can work with and around them. The same kind of uniformity has allowed video game consoles to stay competitive with—and sometimes eclipse—more-powerful gaming hardware… The iPad won’t be all things to all people. Those of us who need raw power will still have our Macs and our PCs and our mainframes for years to come. But I think we’ll find that dainty two-stroke computers like the iPad are surprisingly versatile.”

Read more in the full article – recommended – here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “GetMeOnTop” for the heads up.]


  1. This is exactly how I’ve been explaining iPad to my non-believing friends since the damn thing was announced: It’s an appliance computer. Plain and simple. All some people can manage to do is compare it to existing stuff, when it’s a completely new class of device. Now that I have one and they see all the things it can do (even some stuff that a laptop CAN’T do) they’re all excited about it.

  2. The fact that Apple can’t make enough of them for sale shows that the public doesn’t give a rats hind end about what the naysayers think or say, about the iPad.

    It’s a killer device brought to you by Apple.

    If Apple doesn’t make it, who will???

  3. MDN’s defense is as valid as most of the multitasking complaints. The complainers usually pick something that the iPhone already does (play music and use browser), or something that makes no sense (having an interactive game running in background?).

  4. “even some stuff that a laptop CAN’T do”

    I understand what my Macbook will do that my iPad can’t do. Please explain what my iPad can do that my Macbook CAN’T???

    And please, Being “elegant, so thin and light”, and just delicious doesn’t count. Nor does the “App Store”.. My Macbook runs real “PROGRAMS” that allow me to be productive and earn a good living on – not little “APPlets!

  5. @ IDArgyll
    “If Apple doesn’t make it, who will???”

    Well, since the PC industry has had nearly 10 years to dick around since Bill Gates told them all to build tablets, and none of them got it right, and now, miraculously, companies like HP are showing off prototypes that look hauntingly familiar (if laughably obese) to us iPad owners….

    ….I’m gonna have to go with “no one”.

  6. @ Uh-huh

    I was thinking about that when I was walking around a bar, showing off my photography to friends and strangers, and they all crowded around me to see as I flipped through images, easily zooming in with a pinch.

    Yes, dorky, being elegant light and thin DOES count. It means the iPad can go where your laptop can’t. If you’d like, maybe we could have a Hummer vs. Motorcycle race through the streets of Paris to illustrate my point.

    The only reason you haven’t been able to get a grip on this is your own lack of imagination.

  7. A colleague in work has had her iPad for a few weeks now, and I have to say she is getting fed up of me “borrowing” it, because I never want to give it her back. Last time I used it I put a Note on there, asking her to give this iPad to me. I thought subliminal messages might work on her, but she just shouted at me and banned me from using it for 1 day. It was the longest day of my life.

    Roll on May 28th, for then my pre-ordered 64GB Wi-Fi iPad will be in my hands, and my colleague can finally get some rest.

    P.S. First App I’m going to buy is Pinball HD. Unreal.

  8. A computer – NOT! Apple’s most over-hyped ‘magical’ ‘revolutionary’ gadget ever – YES!

    The thing is cool but the marketing and the incalculable PR is a wonder to behold – now, that is what is revolutionary.

    I’ve got one and it’s use and function is everything everyone says it is – but that is ALL it is and, it’s not any kind of magic.

  9. @Uh-Huh: You’ve seen the Star Walk app, haven’t you? In fact, any app that utilizes the compass or location services has a leg up over the laptop. My iPad feels much more personal than any desktop or laptop I’ve ever owned, despite its “limited” capabilities.

    Honestly, the main reason I agree with this article is that the last 20 years have shown us that some people will just never understand a full-featured desktop OS. The iPad is perfect for those people.

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